Darren “HotSauce” Hardesty Jr. Is Fired Up With Back-To-Back Victories In Glen Helen
San Bernardino, CA
Rounds 9 & 10 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) featured short course under the lights at Glen Helen Raceway. This means big crowds, cooler night time temperatures, and add a hotly contested championship into the mix makes for great off road racing. The 2018 Pro Buggy Points Championship is one of the closest battles with 13 points now separating the top two contenders. Darren “HotSauce” Hardesty Jr., Driver of the #99 Bilstein / Alumi Craft, is fired up with back-to-back race wins while his good friend, Eliott Watson chasing right behind earning almost point for point.
The sports best giving it their all to finish well and score up the last few remaining points maintains a terrific storyline, however the life of a racer on the road comes with many trials and tribulations. Anyone of these setbacks can throw even the most seasoned veterans out of the groove which could hamper the results and performance. In Hardesty’s case, the main base of operation, the toter home rolled into the Glen Helen pits without electrical power. This being a “night race” makes it a bit of an issue.
With day light still on their side, Darren focused on car setup and handling while the team worked on sorting out the generator issues. The Bilstein Shock Absorbers made tuning a breeze and Hardesty showed 3rd fastest in Practice Session 1 and went onto improve moving up to 2nd fastest by Practice Session 3. For Round 9 qualifying, the distractions may have caught up to Darren. The track was drenched and just plain soupy, Hardesty went big on the front stretch coming down hard. The Alumi Craft took it like a champ, but a tire ended up going down on Lap 2 Turn 1. Somehow, “HotSauce” managed to get to the hot pits for a tire change and back on the track with just enough time to fire off one good lap and quick enough for 3rd fastest. Eliott Watson was 2nd and scored one extra point on Darren.
By salvaging a decent qualifying run, Hardesty was placed up front which is very critical on a tight narrow track like Glen Helen. Darren would start on the second row and moved right up into a battle at the front with Watson. For nearly nine laps, Hardesty pressured the #3 TMI Alumi Craft looking to make a move and secure the lead position. On Lap 10, Watson finally left the window open coming out of Turn 2 which allowed for Hardesty to setup the pass and take over in Turn 4 and take his fifth victory for the season. Watson finished 2nd and led at the competition caution, so the point spread was unchanged.
During Round 10, Darren got a good clean six laps and ended up .053 off the pole set by Eliott thus scoring one extra point on Hardesty. The change up was the 2 spot inversion which put #99 Bilstein Pro Buggy on the pole front row inside next to Watson in the #3 car. At the race start, Darren jumped to an early lead but with Watson breathing fire down his neck the whole race. “HotSauce”, comfortable with the heat ran a flawless race up front and went flag to flag for the win. “Another weekend sweep,” Hardesty laughed. That is our third time this year and sixth win of the season. I am super pumped. The team could not be more stoked and we’re hoping to wrap up our third straight Pro Buggy Championship!
Darren has one more race weekend to go before he can wrap up another title. Round 11 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Series goes back to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona on October 20 for the Bushwacker Off Road Nationals. The Lucas Oil Challenge Cup, a non points big money race, will follow on October 21.
About Darren “HotSauce” Hardesty Jr.
Darren “Hot Sauce” Hardesty Jr. is a third generation racer who is making his own mark in racing. Working his way up the ladder from JR1 Kart, where he was named “Rookie of the Year” in 2011, he graduated to the fastest kart class in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series,. Racing a Pro Buggy In 2015, Hot Sauce earned the Rookie of the Year title and the points championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Regional Series. He gave the pro level series a try and did extremely well; so well that he also ran the Pro series for the rest of the season. He became the youngest driver to win a race in the Pro series and went on the take the Rookie of the Year title; earning his second Rookie of the Year title during the same season. In 2016, he has continued to accrue wins and podiums at the professional level. During his trip to the World Championships at the Big House in Crandon, Wisconsin, he earned a victory and second place podium finish racing against the Crandon regulars. At only 16 years of age, Darren Jr. became the youngest driver to win a pro series championship when he dominated the final race of the series. He vaulted from third place in the standings to a tie for first. Having more wins than his top competitor broke the tie, earning HotSauce the title. Darren’s strong performance in 2016 attracted a huge fan following and a rising star nomination from the Off Road Motorsports Hall Of Fame. He backed up his strong run in 2016 with a second straight championship in 2017. He is going for his third championship in a row this season. Anytime he is in the driver’s seat, it’s guaranteed he will spice things up as his nickname “HotSauce” suggests.
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